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John Owen on the Holy Spirit

John Owen is among the theologians whose thoughts most closely mirror my own and this particular book of his could easily be called a manifesto of monergistic, God-honoring theology. I agree with Dr. Sinclair Ferguson when he says, "Whenever I return to read Owen I find myself at least in part wondering why I spend time reading lesser things." I would unhesitatingly put this book up there among Christian classics, and, probably, at least in my opinion, is one of the top ten Christian books ever written. This book will magnify your understanding of the Holy Scriptures and its divine author and make you wonder what ever happened to all the churches who preached from this perspective. Here are among my favorite quotes from the books' abridged edition ...

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To say that we are able by our own efforts to think good thoughts or give God spiritual obedience before we are spiritually regenerate is to overthrow the gospel and the faith of the universal church in all ages.

All men can be divided into two groups. They are either regenerate or unregenerate. All men are born unregenerate (John 3:3-8). ...Spiritual darkness is in all men and lies on all men until God, by an almighty work of the Spirit, shines into men's hearts, or creates light in them (Matt 4:16; John 1:5; Act 26:18; Eph 5:8; Col 1:13; 1 Pet 2:9). ...The nature of this spiritual darkness must be understood. When men have no light to see by, then they are in darkness (Exod. 10:23). Blind men are in darkness, either by birth or by illness or accident (Psa. 69:23; Gen 19:11; Acts 13:11). A spiritually blind man is in spiritual darkness and is ignorant of spiritual things.

There is an outward darkness on men and an inward darkness in men.

Fri, 10/05/2018 - 13:59 -- john_hendryx

My Social Media Strategy

by J. Ligon Duncan

1. Relentlessly encourage, edify & inform.

2. Ignore trolls, mockers & slanderers into oblivion.

3. Starve dissensionists, narcissists, & errorists of the attention they crave.

4. Point people to sound people & resources.

5. Exalt Christ. Bible. Grace. Truth. Gospel.

6. Stay out of food fights. Don’t lob hand grenades into serious discussions. Bring people together.

7. Be kind. Persuade (rather than rally).

8. Treat people on social media like I would treat them in person.

9. Don’t be different on social media from what I am in my life, family, church and ministry. Be the same person online and offline.

10. Don’t give inordinate attention to people whose only “platform” is social media & who elsewhere have little accountability, responsibility.

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Dr. J. Ligon Duncan
Chancellor/CEO of
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John E. Richards Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology

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Related Resources

Tue, 10/02/2018 - 15:13 -- john_hendryx

Common Objections to the Reformed Doctrine of Predestination

by Loraine Boettner

1. That it is Fatalism

2. That it is Inconsistent with the Free Agency and Moral Responsibility of Man

3. That it Makes God the Author of Sin

4. That it Discourages All Motives to Exertion

5. That it Represents God as a Respecter of Persons or as Unjustly Partial

6. That it is Unfavorable to Good Morality

7. That it Precludes a Sincere Offer of the Gospel to the Non-Elect

8. That it Contradicts the Universalistic Scripture Passages

 

Objection 1. It Is Fatalism

Much misunderstanding arises through confusing the Christian Doctrine of Predestination with the heathen doctrine of Fatalism. There is, in reality, only one point of agreement between the two, which is, that both assume the absolute certainty of all future events. The essential difference between them is that Fatalism has no place for a personal God. Predestination holds that events come to pass because an infinitely wise, powerful, and holy God has so appointed them. Fatalism holds that all events come to pass through the working of a blind, unintelligent, impersonal, non-moral force which cannot be distinguished from physical necessity, and which carries us helplessly within its grasp as mighty river carries a piece of wood.

Mon, 10/01/2018 - 19:40 -- john_hendryx

The Importance of Salvation

by Archibald Alexander

In comparison with salvation, all other subjects are trivial. To waste time in the pursuit of wealth, or in the chase of sensual pleasure, while our salvation is not secure, is more than folly—it is madness. What, would you agree to dwell in the dark dungeon of despair forever and ever, for the sake of living a few years upon earth in a sumptuous house? Would you consent to endure the sting of the never-dying worm, and the torment of unquenchable fire, to all eternity, for the sake of gratifying your appetites and senses for a moment? No man would deliberately make such a determination; yet such is the language which many speak by their conduct. The world is pursued daily, at the risk of eternal damnation.

Thu, 09/27/2018 - 18:31 -- john_hendryx

Who Made You to Differ?

by C. H. Spurgeon

It is grace, free, sovereign grace, which has made you to differ!

Should any here, supposing themselves to be the children of God, imagine that there is some reason "in them" why they should have been chosen, let them know, that as yet they are in the dark, concerning the first principles of grace, and have not yet learned the gospel.

If ever they had known the gospel, they would, on the other hand, confess that they were less than the least- the offscouring of all things- unworthy, ill-deserving, undeserving, and hell-deserving, and ascribe it all to distinguishing grace, which has made them to differ; and to discriminating love, which has chosen them out from the rest of the world. Great Christian, you would have been a great sinner if God had not made you to differ!

O! you who are valiant for truth, you would have been as valiant for the devil if grace had not laid hold of you! A seat in heaven shall one day be yours; but a chain in hell would have been yours if grace had not changed you! You can now sing his love; but a licentious song might have been on your lips, if grace had not washed you in the blood of Jesus! You are now sanctified, you are quickened, you are justified; but what would you have been today if it had not been for the interposition of the divine hand? There is not a crime you might not have committed; there is not a folly into which you might not have run.Even murder itself you might have committed if grace had not kept you.You shall be like the angels; but you would have been like the devil if you had not been changed by grace!

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Excerpt from the sermon The Fruitless Vine by C. H. Spurgeon

Sat, 09/15/2018 - 10:44 -- john_hendryx

Christ and Sanctification

by Octavius Winslow

By simple, close, and searching views of the cross of Christ, the Spirit most effectually sanctifies the believer. This is the true and great method of gospel sanctification. Here lies the secret of all real holiness and, may I not add, of all real happiness? For if we separate happiness from holiness, we separate that which, in the Covenant of Grace, God has wisely and indissolubly united. The experience of the true believer must testify to this. We are only happy as we are holy – as the body of sin is daily crucified, as the power of the indwelling principle of sin is weakened, and as the outward deportment more beautifully and closely corresponds to the example of Jesus. Let us not then look for a happy walk apart from a holy one. Trials we may have; indeed if we are the Lord's covenant ones, we shall have them, for He Himself has said, "In the world ye shall have tribulation" (John 16:33). Disappointments we may meet with – broken cisterns, thorny roads, wintry skies; but if we are walking in fellowship with God, walking in the light, growing up into Christ in all things, (with) the Spirit of adoption dwelling in us and leading to a filial and unreserved surrender – oh! there is happiness unspeakable, even though in the very depth of outward trial! A holy walk is a happy walk. This is God's order ... and therefore must be wise and good.

The Spirit especially and effectually sanctifies by unfolding the cross of Jesus

Fri, 09/14/2018 - 11:55 -- john_hendryx

The Marks of True Prayer

by Joel Beeke

1. True prayer brings heaven down into the soul, and lifts the soul up to heaven.

2. True prayer is the prime exercise of faith where all saving graces converge to climax in both the highest expression of gratitute (to God) and the deepest expression of humility (with regard to ourselves), as well as the broadest expression of love (for others).

3. True prayer is real life. It is the “soul’s breathing itself into the bosom of its heavenly Father” (Thomas Watson).

4. True prayer is the sinner’s response to God’s voice. The prayer of the broken-hearted is a gift to God in reply to God’s gift of prayerful brokenheartedness. True prayer is returning to God through the weaknesses and stains of human brokenness and unworthiness what God has decreed from all eternity, made room for in time, and brought to fruition in the moment of actual soul-wrestling.

5. True prayer is a holy art taught by a groaning, wrestling Spirit who often uses the impossibilities and apparent “artlessness” of the believer’s entangled and sin-stained life to pencil upon him the image of his worthy Master.

6. True prayer is spiritual air for spiritual lungs. Where prayerless praying overtakes prayerful praying, the true believer degenerates into listlessness.

7. True prayer is the fruit of God Triune – the Father as Giver and Decreer, the Son as Meritor and Perfector, the Spirit as Wrestler and Indweller.

8. True prayer has an unexplainable way of augmenting both the worthiness of Christ and the unworthiness of the sinner; hence, it is both the chief part of humility and of thankfulness (cf. Heid. Cat. Q. 116).

Tue, 09/11/2018 - 12:15 -- john_hendryx

The Ground of Justification

by Louis Berkhof

One of the most important points of the controversy between the Church of Rome and the Reformers, and between Reformed theology and the Arminians, concerned the ground of justification. With respect to this the Reformers taught:

1. Negatively, that this cannot be found in any virtue of man, nor in his good works. This position must also be maintained at present over against Rome and the Pelagianizing tendencies of various Churches. Rome teaches that the sinner is justified on the basis of the inherent righteousness that has been infused into his heart, and which, in turn, is the fruit of the co-operation of the human will with prevenient grace. This applies to what is called the first justification; in all following justification the good works of man come into consideration as the formal cause or ground of justification. It is impossible however, that the inherent righteousness of the regenerate man and his good works should be constitute the ground of his justification, for (a) this righteousness is and remains during this life a very imperfect righteousness; (b) it is itself already the fruit of the righteousness of Christ and of the grace of God; and (c) even the best works of believers are polluted with sin. Moreover, Scripture teaches us very clearly that man is justified freely by the grace of God, Rom. 3:24, and that he cannot possibly be justified by the works of the law, Rom. 3:28; Gal. 2:16; 3:11.

Tue, 09/04/2018 - 13:30 -- john_hendryx

The Distinction Between Free Will and Free Agency

INABILITY: FALLEN HUMAN BEINGS ARE BOTH FREE AND ENSLAVED

by J.I. Packer

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? - JEREMIAH 17:9

Clear thought about the fallen human condition requires a distinction between what for the past two centuries has been called free agency and what since the start of Christianity has been called free will. Augustine, Luther, Calvin, and others spoke of free will in two senses, the first trivial, the second important; but this was confusing, and it is better always to use free agency for their first sense.

Free agency is a mark of human beings as such. All humans are free agents in the sense that they make their own decisions as to what they will do, choosing as they please in the light of their sense of right and wrong and the inclinations they feel. Thus they are moral agents, answerable to God and each other for their voluntary choices. So was Adam, both before and after he sinned; so are we now, and so are the glorified saints who are confirmed in grace in such a sense that they no longer have it in them to sin. Inability to sin will be one of the delights and glories of heaven, but it will not terminate anyone’s humanness; glorified saints will still make choices in accordance with their nature, and those choices will not be any the less the product of human free agency just because they will always be good and right.

Sat, 08/25/2018 - 17:40 -- john_hendryx

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